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By: Shellie Karabel
There is a cynical joke in Argentina that goes something like this: God gave Argentina vast acres of fertile land where crops grow and cattle graze and horses roam, and He gave Argentina oil and minerals to fuel their potential. And when He had finished, God worried that perhaps he had put a bit too much goodness into this country…and so, he created the Argentine people.
If you look back at the country’s recent leadership history, you might find this joke more descriptive than funny: since World War II, with populist leader Juan Peron and his rock-star wife Evita, to military rule to fledgling democracy to the unpredictable Menem and then 12 years of the husband and wife economic voodoo of the Kircheners (which spawned the largest government default in history), Argentina has been subjected to corruption and almost continual isolation by inward-looking governments, missing out on most of the progress in the northern hemisphere. Agriculture such as soybeans and natural resources such as oil and gas have been – and still are - the export staples for decades.
“For the last 12 years, we suffered a lot, one businessman who wished to remain nameless told me in an interview for this blog. “The government statistics were totally off base, they insulted people’s intelligence. In reality, inflation was more than 30% a year. We were dealing with a fake cost of goods, fake prices, high taxes, currency restrictions…it was like living in an alternate universe paid for by soy beans.”
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